Covid… good riddance.
Although it’s not yet, and most probably never will be, completely gone, thankfully the worst of Covid is seemingly behind us, hopefully never to return.
This pandemic has been devastating, and members and friends of the curling family have been tragically affected, as have lots of people and families in the wider world. But now we seem to be coming out on the other side.
And while almost everyone has tales of negative experiences, two of the teams at the LGT World Women’s Championship 2023 have particularly cruel sporting stories to tell.
Last year, a new Team Scotland, skipped by Rebecca Morrison, was ready to take up the place of Eve Muirhead’s Olympic champions. Big shoes to fill indeed — but they were up for it. So, they headed to Canada’s Prince George in March last year, ready to make their debut in the blue of Scotland at the BKT Tires & OK Tire World Women’s Curling Championship 2022.
Only… they never really made it. Skip Morrison and other squad members came down with Covid before the competition started. Even though they soldiered on as a three-person team for the first couple of games, further positive tests ruled them out completely. In a few days, these elite athletes had their dreams dashed.
However, to be fair to Rebecca and her team, they have battled back to compete at this year’s event in Sandviken.
Just after her team’s win against United States, Rebecca reflected on her team’s challenging ride.
She recalled, “Last year was very devastating for us because we just didn’t get the chance to show what we’re made of on the world stage. We had been waiting for that opportunity for a while and we didn’t know if we were going to get that chance again soon.”
“It was really tough last year, so to come back this year and get that opportunity now has been really great. And although we’ve had a lot of losses, we know we’ve put up a good fight against every team so far.”
Thinking about her experiences in the immediate aftermath of her team’s aborted campaign last year, she added, “It was a touchy subject for a while, but in April last year we had a de-brief from the competition and got it all out and put it to bed. But it’s made us better equipped to deal with all sorts of problem.”
And looking forward, she gave this analysis, “We have said it was a tough one to take because we felt that last year was our time to come here and get the experience, and this year should have been the year that we came here and really challenged. But obviously, it’s not gone that way for us, and this year has just been a case of finding our feet.”
“This is just the start of a four-year cycle for us. We’ve got big goals in that cycle. We want to be at the Olympics representing Great Britain and it’s a long cycle ahead of us. It’s just about building this year — the wins will come, so hopefully next year we’ll come and get a few more wins.”
Morrison’s sense of devastation last year was exactly what Canada’s Kerri Einarson had felt in 2020.
At that year’s Canadian women’s championship — the Scotties — Einarson and her team had won their first national title, and with it the right to wear the Maple Leaf at that year’s worlds — with the added bonus that it would be on home ice, in Prince George.
Kerri takes up the story, “We arrived in Prince George and were figuring things out and went grocery shopping. The next day we got the phone call. We were absolutely devastated, especially for Val [Sweeting] and me. We’ve lost many heartbreakers and when we found out it was cancelled, we were devastated.”
Next time round, Kerri and her team earned the right to represent Canada in the Calgary bubble, which was necessarily a highly-regimented and isolated environment, and the only way in which top competitions could take place in 2021.
Kerri recalls, “During that time, it was challenging. We had some very, very dark days in the bubble, not being able to see your family and friends. I spent a number of days in that bubble, and I learnt so much, and I was figuring out about myself and things like that. It was different. It was challenging times.”
Now things have returned to normal, Scotland’s Morrison and her team are trying to build their international careers, and Canada’s Einarson and her team are enjoying representing Canada on foreign ice for the first time. But reflecting on the challenges of the last few year, Kerri speaks for many when she says, “Thank God it’s behind us.”
Engage with the World Curling Federation during the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Weibo and be searching the hashtags #WWCC2023 #curling